Practicing fasting is no longer an old tradition. With numerous benefits and very few risks, fasting is quickly becoming a lifestyle practice in the modern world. However, a major part of the world’s population is unfamiliar with the different types of fasting.
The evolution of different types of fasting creates some confusion. By example, people ask: “Does fasting mean no water?” This article focuses on removing such confusion.
It also reveals the most well-known methods of practicing fasting and explains different concerns related to them. Before moving any further, it is important to understand fasting and the reasons behind it.
What is Practicing Fasting?
Practicing fasting is knowingly not eating food for a specific period of time. In some cases, fasting means not eating or drinking anything other than water for a predetermined time. Fasting might affect our energy levels. If uncertain at first, it is best to practice fasting under the supervision of a doctor or healthcare practitioner.
Some Benefits of Practicing Fasting
There are many reasons for fasting. Some major ones are:
- Soul cleansing
- Health benefits
- Inner satisfaction
- Weight loss
- Some medical tests require fasting
- Stimulate or induce autophagy
Well-known Methods Of Practicing Fasting
Though there are different methods of fasting. The well-known ones are:
- Intermittent Fasting
- Water Fasting
- Autophagy Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a dieting pattern where we purposefully avoid certain meals. It means we consume food during one part of the day and avoid eating anything for the remaining part. Skipping breakfast is one practice during intermittent fasting. Some usual patterns of intermittent fasting are:
In this plan, we divide 24 hours of a day into two parts; 16 and 8 hours. We fast for 16 hours of the day and consume food in the remaining 8-hour period. These periods are any part of the day depending from person to person.
For example, eating breakfast at 8 AM means our eating window is open till 4 PM. The fast would thus begin at 4 PM and continue till 8 AM the next day.
24 hour Fasting Plan
This plan is also known as a day fast as it involves not eating food for one whole day. In other words, we do not consume breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a complete 24-hours. Suppose that our 24-hour plan starts at 9 AM today, then we avoid food for the next 24 hours.
In this method we eat normally for any five consecutive days of the week. Then we reduce our calorie intake for the remaining two days. The Beginner’s Guide to the 5:2 Diet contains more information about this plan.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Most of us start with intermittent fasting to get one or two benefits without realizing that there are more. Some of them are:
Increases Our Lifespan
During intermittent fasting, our body finds different ways to extend our lifespan. The mechanism behind it is almost similar to the one behind calorie restriction. The following study elaborates on it:
The effect on health of alternate day calorie restriction: Eating less and more than needed on alternate days prolongs life.
Reduces Side Effects of Cancer
Cancer is a dangerous disease. Studies show that practicing fasting before cancer treatment helps in reducing the side-effects of cancer therapy.
See this report: Fasting and cancer treatment in humans: A case series report
A Substitute for Dieting
Dieting involves eating this and leaving out that. This is not the case with intermittent fasting. The popularity of intermittent fasting is growing. It is easily achieved as we start caring about our eating habits.
Explore this article: Dietary and physical activity adaptations to alternate day modified fasting: implications for optimal weight loss
Drinking Water During Intermittent Fasting
A concern when undertaking intermittent fasting is the consumption of water. Some related questions are:
- Can I drink water during intermittent fasting, or rather not?
- Can you drink water during intermittent fasting, or rather not?
- Can you drink water while intermittent fasting, or rather not?
The answer to these questions is the same. It is essential to drink water during intermittent fasting to stay hydrated.
Water fasting is a type of fast where we do not consume anything except water. This means we do not eat anything and drink ONLY water for a specific period. Like every other fast, while unsure, practice water fasting under the supervision of a medical practitioner.
Types of Water Fasting
Depending on our personal choice, water fasting is divided into different types, they are:
- 24 hour water fast
- 48 hour water fast
- 72 hour water fast
- 5 day water fast
- 7 day water fast
- 14 day water fast
- 21 day water fast
Benefits of Water Fasting
Water fasting provides short term as well as long term benefits. Some of them are:
- Improves cell recycling
- Reduces risks related to heart disease
- Balances the level of fat in the blood
- Improves fitness
- Protects our brain
- Makes our skin healthier
- Decreases infections
Things to Consider while Water Fasting
Sometimes we think water fasting is similar to regular fasting. As a result, we avoid certain factors. There are things to consider while water fasting. Some of them are:
- 24-hour water fast benefits are different from 3 day water fast benefits or 7 day water fast benefits. Our expectations are based on the duration of fasting.
- The decisions about water fasting for a week or water fasting for a month require self-analysis. While uncertain or new to practicing fasting, it is best to consult our doctor.
- Before starting with water fasting first understand how to break that fast. For example, become familiar with how to break a 3 day water fast before practicing a 72 hour water fast.
- WHAT TO EAT AFTER A WATER FAST is another important thing to consider before practicing this type of fast.
- A big reason behind practicing water fasting is weight loss. Here are other water fasting Google search terms:
- 7 day water fast weight loss
- How much weight can you lose on a water fast?
- Can I drink green tea while water fasting?
Autophagy is a natural process when our body replaces old parts of cells with new ones. During fasting, the old and damaged cells, as well as their parts, are replaced with new and healthy cells. This is a process when cleaning and recycling of cells happen at the same time.
Fasting Triggers Autophagy
Scientists have conducted several studies on animals and a few on humans. The studies explain that practicing fasting activates genes that tell cells to save resources. As a result, the cells become resistant to cellular stress or disease.
Practicing fasting induces the autophagy process. Our body starts cleaning the old and unwanted cellular material. In simple words, the repair and recycling of damaged parts start.
Benefits of Autophagy
The main benefit of autophagy is the creation of younger cells. It increases our lifespan. Practicing fasting stresses the cells in our body and leads to an increment in the autophagy process. Autophagy also provides these benefits:
- Removal of malicious proteins from cells which might cause neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
- Protection against cancer, infections, and inflammation-causing diseases
- Recycles remaining proteins
- Essential support to cells being repaired
- Helps in reducing or balancing our weight
Who Should Avoid Autophagy Fasting
No matter how beneficial autophagy is, it is not for everyone. The following are scenarios to be cautious and preferably not take part in autophagy fasting:
- Pregnant women
- Planning to be pregnant
- Breastfeeding women
- Men or women suffering from chronic conditions like heart disease
- Diabetes patients with critical test results of glucose testing
Important Facts About Autophagy Fasting
- Autophagy is becoming well-known because of the understanding that it helps in the prevention or treatment of cancer. The following research elaborates on it: Autophagy and intermittent fasting: the connection for cancer therapy?
- According to Autophagy in malignant transformation and cancer progression, autophagy may help in the removal of cancerous cells.
- A Keto diet regulates protein intake and plays an important role in boosting autophagy. It is a part of an autophagy diet plan.
- Information is available on the internet about food that promotes autophagy. Learn more about diets that promote autophagy: 10 Keto Recipes That Are Full of Fat (and That’s a Good Thing).
- The autophagy process helps in destroying viruses and bacteria after an infection.
- Short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy. Practicing casting is a favored way to spark or induce autophagy.
Autophagy was discovered in the 1960s, though was only properly recognized after the research of Yoshinori Ohsumi in 1990s. Since then, many studies have been conducted and a lot has been learned about autophagy.
Scientists are still studying this natural process. Thus further information about autophagy would become available continuously.
Remember, while at first uncertain, consult a doctor before practicing fasting, any kind of fasting.